Monday, September 29, 2014

RIP, George Shuba


Former Brooklyn Dodger George "Shotgun" Shuba has passed away at the age of 89 at his home in Youngstown, OH.  RIP, George Shuba.  As you may know, he was recognized for the first inter-racial handshake in modern professional Baseball.  Per Mark Langill at Dodger Insider:
But the teammate was Jackie Robinson, the African-American infielder who that afternoon was breaking the sport’s color barrier. Photographers captured a smiling Robinson shaking hands with Shuba after Robinson’s three-run home run in the third inning against Jersey City pitcher Warren Sandell. Only seconds before the handshake, the Montreal third-base coach conveniently turned his back and walked away from the base. Shuba didn’t give his actions a second thought.

“Our teammate hit a home run, so I shook his hand,” he said. “It didn’t make any difference to me that Jackie was black. He was a great player, and I was glad to have him on the team.”
As I had written a number of years ago, Jackie called George later on to thank him.  This was his response:
‘‘He called me later and thanked me,’’ Shuba said. ‘‘And I said, what for?"... ‘‘I said, ‘Are you on our team? Are you on our side? OK then.’ ’’
Shuba received his nickname, per Roger Kahn, for
"spraying line drives (like when you shoot a shotgun) with a swing so compact that it appeared as natural as a smile".
You can check out his personal website here: GeorgeShuba.com.  Per a Dodger press release:
It was George who extended his hand, "A Handshake for the Century", in offering congratulations near home plate to Jackie Robinson, his Montreal Royals teammate, who hit a home run on Opening Day 1946 at Roosevelt City in Jersey City.  Robinson, the African-American infielder, was breaking the sport’s color barrier that afternoon.

Photographers captured a smiling Robinson shaking hands with Shuba after Robinson’s three-run home run in the third inning against Jersey City pitcher Warren Sandell. (photo at top)

Shuba’s nickname was born after someone compared his line drives to the sound of buckshot. Shuba compiled a lifetime .259 batting average in 355 games with Brooklyn from 1948-55 with 24 home runs and 125 RBI. He was the first National League pinch-hitter to hit a home run in World Series history, connecting against the Yankees in 1953.

Shuba returned to Dodger Stadium in 2005 when the club staged a 50th anniversary celebration of the team’s first and only championship in Brooklyn. Twelve of the 13 living members attended: Shuba, Carl Erskine, Roger Craig, Bob Borkowski, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Clem Labine, Sandy Koufax, Ed Roebuck, Don Zimmer, Tommy Lasorda and Duke Snider (the only player not present was Billy Loes).

Shuba is survived by his wife, Kathryn, his son, Michael, daughters Marlene and Marykay and his sister, Helen.

Funeral services are pending.

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Dee Gordon's a Diamond in the Rough - 2011 Topps Diamond Card


After most pundits and fans had completely written off the young Dodger infielder, Dee Gordon proved that he has game.  He started the spring season without a job on the Dodgers roster, but quickly earned a second base position with some solid preseason play.  Then, he rewarded the Dodgers faith by posting some phenomenal numbers to start the year.

During the months of March and April he slashed an astounding .344/.375/.478 and had thirteen stolen bases in fourteen tries.  He cooled off a bit the next month, but soon found some consistency for the remainder of the season.  All the while, his speed wreaked havoc on the bases throughout.  He ended up leading the Major Leagues in both stolen bases with 64 and triples with 12.

Even more impressive was how well Gordon played second base.  Considering that he had recently learned the position he still found a way to impress the fans with his range and guile.  It felt like every game he would make an spectacular play to get a key out.  Overall, he recorded only twelve errors.  

No doubt, Dee Gordon had become a diamond in the rough - which is a timely phrase to use since the 2011 Topps Update Dee Gordon embedded diamond "1 of 1" card had recently made an appearance on eBay.  Check out a pic of it above and below.

As you might recall, Topps made scarce diamond embedded baseball cards for every base card in their 2011 Topps set to celebrate their diamond anniversary - their 60th year making Baseball cards.  So far, only a handful of the Dodger diamond cards have been unearthed (I'm sure many others sit safely in private collections).  Go here to check out all of the other diamond Dodger cards I have found and written about.

UPDATE:  I think I spotted a grammar mistake on the reverse of this Gordon card.   Isn't it "where his future laid" not "where his future lied?"  Right?  My mind isn't playing tricks on me, is it?  I should talk, though, my gremmer is always in question.

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2014 Panini Immaculate Baseball - The Dodger Autographed Cards

Following up on Friday's post featuring the Dodger base cards found in packs of Panini's Immaculate Collection, here are the various autographed cards that are available.  Go here to check out all of my previous post on this set.

Below are the normal autographed cards, and as always there are several different parallels available.  They are: Blue #/10, Holo Gold #/5, Platinum 1/1.

Autographs Set

#44 Chad Billingsley (#/49)                       #55 Adrian Gonzalez (#/25)

#97 Clayton Kershaw (#/25)

There is one parallel available in the Autographed Materials set.  It is called Autographed Materials Prime, and it typically includes a patch or special relic piece embedded within it.  Below are the print runs:
  • #7 Darryl Strawberry (#/20)
  • #16 Gary Sheffield (#/1)
  • #30 Clayton Kershaw (#/15)

Autograph Materials Set

#7 Darryl Strawberry (#/99)                   #16 Gary Sheffield (#/49)

#30 Clayton Kershaw (#/49)

Below are the Ink Gold autographed cards, and there are several different parallels available.  They are: Blue #/10, Holo Ink #/5, Platinum 1/1.

Ink Gold Set

#17 Adrian Gonzalez (#/15)               #41 Darryl Strawberry (#/25)

#43 Clayton Kershaw (#/25)                     #49 Steve Garvey (#/49)

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Blog Kiosk: 9/29/2014 - Dodger Links - Dodgers Win Five in a Row


The Dodgers finish off the 2014 regular season in grand fashion - winning their last five games in a row. It is nice to have this kind of momentum going into the playoffs.

In the 10 to 5 win over the Rockies on Sunday the Dodgers hit three home runs; including a two-run homer by Kemp and a three-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez.  The third dinger was hit by Roger Bernadina; who surprised everyone with a 434 foot moon shot to right field.  Starting pitcher Zack Greinke pitched well in his five innings.  He allowed just four hits, one earned run and struck out six. Per an AP report on ESPN:
"I felt good," he said. "I used all the pitches; they all had some crispness to them. I didn't give up too many hard-hit balls, so that was the goal."
The highlight of the afternoon, though, was the dramatic changes made to the Dodgers coaching staff.  Clayton Kersahw took over for Rick Honeycutt as the pitching coach, Hanley Ramirez took over for Tim Wallach as the bench coach and Juan Uribe took over for Don Mattingly as the manager.  By the results, I think it's fair to say that they did a great job in their new positions.  The pic above features Uribe wearing a Lasorda uniform and Hanley wearing Wallach's uniform, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014Go here to see more photos from yesterday.

The playoffs begin for the Dodgers on Friday against the Cardinals.  Adam Wainwright is expected to start against Clayton Kersahw.  Below are some links to check out:
"You think you can do it and it might be easy, but now I can say managing isn't that easy," Uribe said. "I don't want to be a manager [after I retire]."
"We had pretty good success in Chicago with our energy, I felt like, without the BP," Mattingly said. "The BP gets to be one of those things that you do every day, every day, every day, and it kind of wears you down mentally. So really no BP has kind of been a mental break for us, I feel like."
"There was no particular rule against it," he said. "I just felt that was taking stuff onto the field. That was different than what was going on in the stands — the guy sliding down in Milwaukee, the [Phillie] Phanatic. Something that was happening on the field, I just didn't feel it was appropriate.

"But there was no rule written against it. So that's why it was out for one day and wasn't out for another day."
"It went very well. I didn't feel any discomfort in my shoulder," said Ryu, who hasn't pitched in a game since leaving after one inning Sept. 12 in San Francisco. "Very positive result."
“I think we’re going to be on TV next season. I really do,” Johnson said before Sunday’s regular-season finale at Dodger Stadium. “Just keep pushing them to make that happen. … They saw the response of the fans when they were on TV. Everybody wanted to watch the Dodgers.”

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    Sunday, September 28, 2014

    Sunday Dodger Videos: Greinke, Kershaw and the 5K

    Here are this Sunday's Dodge videos.

    Listen to Zack Greinke speak to reporters at his locker after pitching Tuesday's game against the Giants.

    Video Link:

    Check out this great video created by a Dodger fan using the recent charity Dodger 5K run as a backdrop and the musical anthem "I Love LA" by Randy Newman.

    Video Link:

    Here's a KCAL9 report on Clayton Kershaw's recent speech on his faith at the Angeles Temple in the LA Dream Center in Echo Park on Thursday.

    Video Link:

    Check out this Dodger clubhouse celebration video from Power106 featuring interviews with Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.

    Video Link:

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    Saturday, September 27, 2014

    Blog Kiosk: 9/27/2014 - Dodger Links - Some Odds and Ends


    The Dodgers had another late game offensive explosion last night as they defeated the Rockies 7 to 4.  It all started with a Barney Darwin's pinch-hit single to start the sixth inning.  Then they got five singles, a walk and a sacrafice fly to score six runs.  From there, the Dodger relief staff shut down Colorado's bat for a victory.

    We are now assured the second best record in the National League and are slated to face off against the winner of the NL's Central Division.  That race is likely to not be determined until the very last day.  Now, below are some links to check out:
    • ICYMI: The Dodgers named left-handed pitcher Julio Urias as the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year and infielder Corey Seager and outfielder Joc Pederson as co-Minor League Players of the Year.  Go here to check out the Dodgers press release.  A photo of the three is at the very top; taken by Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014.
    • Via Mike Bauman at MLB.com, "Colletti: Dodgers' intangibles just as pivotal as their talent."
    "It's really come together the last couple of months. Our guys battled through injury, and they battled through digging ourselves a pretty big hole. We were around .500, which really isn't that bad, but San Francisco was so far up that we couldn't look at them and say let's erase it overnight. Through persistence and a lot of hard work by the manager and the coaching staff and the guys that play, we're here tonight.
    • Topps is now getting into limited edition T-Shirts.  They just released a Jackie Robinson "My Hero" T-Shirt that borrows the vintage 1967 sticker test issue set.  Less than 150 were available.  Unfortunately, they do not appear available at this time.  (Sold out?)  Check it out here.  Check out what it looks like on the right.
    • This is just great.  Jon Wesiman at Dodger Insider wrote a flashback piece entitled, "Time’s up: 10 reasons the 1988 Dodgers won’t make it to the World Series."
    • Night Owl Cards shares a whole bunch of Paul Konerko Baseball cards as a Dodger in his post entitled, "See ya, Paulie."
    • Via Dan Arritt at ESPNLosAngeles.com, "As league's best, Justin Turner just keeps producing with runners in scoring position."
    “I just put my work in the cage and prepare, try to know how pitchers are going to try and attack me, and trust my game plan,” he said. 
    This time, players are expected to receive their rings long before the game, during a private event, and the on-ice pregame ceremony will be significantly streamlined. That seems to be fine with the players.

    ``We want to see the banner up there and drop the puck,’’ center Jarret Stoll said. ``We want to get the season going. That whole night is special, to see the banner and enjoy that for five minutes, and then it’s a new season.’’

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      Friday, September 26, 2014

      I Prefer to Tip My Cap to Kirk Gibson


      On a day when there isn't much to speak of we are given some news that I'm sure doesn't surprise anyone.  This afternoon the Diamondbacks officially fired manager Kirk Gibson.

      This has caused a rather vociferous response from the Dodger faithful, and to be frank I don't like it at all.

      I get that he was an opposing manager of a burgeoning rival... I get that he's been blamed for the HBP parade that became endemic of the DBack's pitching staff... I get that some Dodger Blue fans may hold a grudge against him as a result... But, come on now.  Kirk Gibson is one of the Dodgers greatest heroes and regardless of that recent past he should always be given a measure of respect.

      Furthermore, I get that much of what you see on social media is pure schadenfreude and should not be taken seriously.  Still, I find the lulz bandwagon found on my timeline to be immensely annoying.  (I guess you can say the trolls have beat me.)

      From where I stand, Kirk Gibson will always be a Dodger.  I will always see him as that hobbling linebacker-looking slugger who was the inspiration, if not the reason, we won the World Series in 1988.  And for that, for that single season of Dodger Blue greatness, I will always tip my hat to Kirk Gibson.  Like I said before, he deserve that level of respect - especially from Dodger fans.

      Pic above grabbed from Hardball Talk.

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      Rockies Series Starts Tonight - Scheduled Autograph Signings, Game Give Aways and Other Stuff!


      The next homestand starts this evening against the Colorado Rockies, and several olde-tyme Dodgers will be in the house to sign free autographs for fans.  Below are the scheduled autograph opportunities and other odds and ends for this upcoming homestand.

      BTW, these last remaining three home games of the season will be aired on KDOC - free for everyone.  KDOC can be seen on the following channels:

      ---------------
      Friday, September 26th at 7:10 PM
      Jordan Lyles vs. Roberto Hernandez

      Tonight's game starts at 7:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 4:30 PM, and stadium gates open at 5:00 PM.  It is Friday Night Fireworks, so fans will be able to go down onto the field after the game.  The theme for the evening is a celebration of national Hispanic Heritage month.

      Hayley Orrantia, a 20-year-old actress, singer and songwriter, who can currently be seen starring as Erica Goldberg on ABC’s “The Goldbergs” will perform the national anthem.  Also, the Dodgers named Julio Urias as the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year and infielder Corey Seager and outfielder Joc Pederson as co-Minor League Players of the Year, and they will be honored before the game.

      Former Dodgers Billy Ashley (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Al Downing (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.  Both will then sign autographs in the Stadium club from 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM.
      • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Army Private First Class Ted Gach of Los Angeles. Gach volunteered to enlist when World War II started and served with the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper and demolition expert. On June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, Gach volunteered to jump into Normandy, France with explosives hidden in his boots.  He also made jumps in Italy and Holland.  In addition, he fought in Germany and in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Gach’s accolades include the Purple Heart, European-African- Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Bronze Arrowhead.
      • The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) will hold a silent auction on the Club level by the Vin Scully Press Box. The auction ends at 8:45 p.m. with more than 25 items up for bid, including a Carl Crawford autographed baseball, Matt Kemp autographed photo and Adrian Gonzalez autographed game-used No. 42 LA Dodgers Jersey from Jackie Robinson Day. All proceeds will benefit LADF and its programs in sports and recreation, education and literacy and health and wellness which help children and families throughout the greater Los Angeles region.
      ---------------
      Saturday, September 27th at 6:10 PM
      Eddie Butler vs. Dan Haren

      Saturday's game starts at 6:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 3:30 PM, and stadium gates open at 4:00 PM. 

      The Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team from Chicago that won the U.S. Little League championship and finished runner-up to South Korea for the Little League World Series title will visit Dodger Stadium on Saturday as guests of the Dodgers.  They will take batting practice from 1:45-2:15 p.m. on the field at Dodger Stadium with Carl Crawford, meet with Dodger alumni and legends, participate in the on-field pre-game ceremonies and attend the game that evening.

      Grammy nominated singer and actress Christina Milian, who is also of Cuban descent, will perform the national anthem as part of La Gran Fiesta – Viva Los Dodgers day.  Los Angeles Lakers’ new point guard Jeremy Lin will throw the ceremonial first pitch.

      Fans are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy La Gran Fiesta – Viva Los Dodgers. The Dodgers’ annual national Hispanic Heritage month celebration held in lot 6 will include on-stage interviews and autographs from Dodger broadcasters, former players and current players and live entertainment from CAVA, El Conjunto Nuevo Ola, Trio Ellas and DJ Scoop DeVille.  Go here for more information.

      La Gran Fiesta starts at 2:00 PM and admission is free for all fans going to the game.  SportsNet LA Dodger broadcaster Alanna Rizzo will interview Dodger players on stage including Adrian Gonzalez and Kenley Jansen. Dodger broadcasters, Alanna Rizzo, Rick Monday, Charley Steiner, Manny Mota, Jorge Jarrín, Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrín, Pepe Yñiguez and Fernando Valenzuela will also sign autographs. Starting at approximately 4:00 p.m., Dodgers players including Tim Federowicz, Paco Rodriguez, Miguel Rojas, Yimi Garcia, Pedro Baez and Carlos Frias will sign autographs for fans. Hanley Ramirez will make an appearance at the State Farm activation area. Dodger alumni league members Dennis Powell, Derrel Thomas, Tommy Davis, Lee Lacy, Kenny Landreaux, Al Ferrara and Billy Ashley will also sign autographs at La Gran Fiesta.

      Below is an autograph schedule that was just released.  Some of the folks indicated above but not shown below may still make an appearance. UPDATEGo here for the updated schedule.
      • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Navy Gunnery Sergeant Jason Butler.
      • The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) will hold a silent auction on the Club level by the Vin Scully Press Box. The auction ends at 8:45 p.m. with more than 25 items up for bid, including a Yasiel Puig autographed baseball, Clayton Kershaw autographed photo and Hanley Ramirez autographed game-used #42 LA Dodgers Jersey from Jackie Robinson Day. All proceeds will benefit LADF and its programs in sports and recreation, education and literacy and health and wellness which help children and families throughout the greater Los Angeles region.
      ---------------
      Sunday, September 28th at 1:10 PM
      Christian Bergman vs. Zack Greinke

      Happy Fan Appreciation Day!  Some lucky fans will receive a special gift from the club.  Go here for a brief listing of what will be given away.  Sunday's game starts at 1:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 10:30 AM, and stadium gates open at 11:00 AM. 

      Christina Grimmie, “The Voice” finalist and Island recording artist currently promoting her newest single “Must Be Love,” will perform the national anthem. The ceremonial first pitch will be chosen as part of Fan Appreciation Day. There will be a postgame postseason rally hosted by George Lopez. The postgame rally will also feature performances by Hip-hop violinist Josh Vietti and Latin Grammy nominated all female mariachi group Trio Ellas.

      Former Dodgers Matt Luke (in right-field pavilion plaza) and Tim Leary (in left-field pavilion plaza) will be signing autographs for fans from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. 

      • The Veteran of the Game presented by Bank of America is U.S. Army Colonel Jonathan Braga. Bank of America Vice President, Strategic Account Executive, Merchant Services Matt Haussmann will present him with a flag that has been flown at Dodger Stadium.
      • The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) will hold a silent auction on the Club level by the Vin Scully Press Box with more than 25 items up for bid, including a Andre Ethier autographed baseball, Kenley Jansen autographed game-used baseball cleats and Zack Greinke autographed game-Used No. 42 LA Dodgers jersey from Jackie Robinson Day. All proceeds will benefit LADF and its programs in sports and recreation, education and literacy and health and wellness which help children and families throughout the greater Los Angeles region.

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      2014 Panini Immaculate Baseball - The Dodger Base Cards

      On Wednesday Panini released their newest Baseball card product and it's an high-end issue.  It is called the 2014 Immaculate Collection, and a single box of cards will cost over $200.00.  For that price you get one pack of six cards - five of which are guaranteed to be either an autograph or relic card.  Go here to see a complete checklist of the set.

      There are seven Dodgers in the 100-card base set.  Check them all out below.

      A normal base card is serial numbered to only #/99 copies, and like always there are numerous parallels available.  The parallels include a Blue #/10, Holo Gold #/5, Platinum 1/1.

      Overall, I think it's a great design, but it's missing something... Oh, yeah... there are no team logos, so they look super-goofy.  As you may know, Panini does not have a MLB license (only a MLBPA license), so there are no mentions of the Dodgers or their insignia anywhere.  Instead, it says only "Los Angeles Baseball Club."  Other than that it's a sharp looking set.

      Of note, I just noticed that the uniform number on the players front is in Blue instead of the normal red.  I wonder if the red uniform number is considered a unique brand of the Dodgers.  So unique that a non-license holder like Panini cannot use it.  Hmm...

      #5 Clayton Kershaw                                  #24 Matt Kemp


      #33 Yasiel Puig                                      #43 Adrian Gonzalez

      #68 Hyun-Jin Ryu                                  #74 Zack Greinke

      #84 Hanley Ramirez

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      Blog Kiosk: 9/26/2014 - Dodger Links - Some Odds and Ends


      Check out this great vintage photo via @BSmile on twitter.  It features the Brooklyn Dodgers Band getting ready for the upcoming 1941 World Series.  Per the caption:
      ~ ACME Wire: ” -  Shows, the Brooklyn Dodger Band as they oiled up their instruments for the Series. “Brother Lou” Sariano, leader of the band, as he oiled up the squeeky trombone for Patty George. at the Withers Bar and Grill at 32 Withers St. Brooklyn.
      As you know, this group would be aptly named the Sym-Phony Band by Dodger broadcaster Red Barber in  1939.  BTW, there is a half-hour documentary about this group made in 1998, and a six minute clip of it can be seen here, on vimeo
      • If you haven't already you gotta check out Dodger photographer Jon SooHoo's pics from Wedneday.  He's got a bunch of photos of the game and the ensuing celebration.  Go here.  You won't regret it.
      • I had missed this moment at the end of Wednesday's game.  So, why are you making it hard to hate you?  See the gif below.  
      (Via Reddit: HairyBoobies)
      No one’s found a way to beat him, not reliably, anyway; in his 27 starts this year, only once did he allow more than three earned runs. But it doesn’t mean hitters aren’t constantly trying to figure out how, because “simply waiting until he retires in 12 years or so” seems like it might take some time. So they’re doing something that may seem counter-intuitive: They’re swinging as soon as they can. After years and years of being told “be patient, work the count, get into the bullpen,” — not a terrible thought, since the Dodgers bullpen beyond Kenley Jansen & J.P. Howell is more than a little problematic — hitters are abandoning patience and are simply trying to attack Kershaw early.
      Even though Billingsley hasn’t starting throwing yet, he has been working out and says that he will have a ‘normal’ off-season.

      “Shoulder exercising, running and lower body work a lot,” said Billingsley. “It’s mostly just waiting allowing my surgery to heal on its own and start throwing by the end of November and be ready by spring training.”
      Simmons’s anger is absolutely earned. Goodell’s denial is absurd; as I’ve written before, what did he think it looked like when a football player knocked a woman unconscious? (Note that Simmons is saying that he lied about knowing what was on the tape, not whether Goodell saw it himself.) There are a few levels of dishonesty here: when Goodell hears that a player—a man whom he watches on the field every week using the force of his body in violent collisions—has hit a woman, and says that he just can’t picture the mechanics of that action without a video, how many lies is he telling, to others and to himself? Perhaps in other cases, when players choked women, shot them, or dragged them by the hair, he needed a sort of animated diagram.

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